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Reading My Library

Friday, October 9, 2009


Who is Aliki? It is really hard to find good information about her, although she has written an illustrated a slew of children's picture books, including Feelings (featured on Reading Rainbow). (Feelings was in my library stack and I have to confess I didn't care for it all that much.)

My favorite book in the stack by Aliki was My Five Senses which I thought did a FANTASTIC job of explaining the senses and asking children questions to make them really think about sight, smell and the ability to hear. Very nicely done. She takes a concept and made it understandable. Bookworm1 loved this book and we've received repeated requests to read it. This book, btw, is also available in Spanish.

Aliki seems to have written both fiction and non-fiction. She lives in England with her family who, from the back of one of the book jackets, would seem to include a husband named Franz Brandenberg, who is also an author. Aliki herself has illustrated all of her husband's books. The couple apparently had three children. The back of the book jackets all seem to tell you why she wrote that particular book, instead of being informative as to who she is. One book jacket points to a website (www.alikibooks.com) but if you visit the site it redirects you to Harper Collins where it mentions that the Aliki book site as been moved or no longer exists.

Some further exploration turned up the following information about this fascinating author and illustrator:

- She was born in New Jersey while her family was on vacation. (Can you imagine that, mothers?!)

- She was raised in Pennsylvania.

- She loved to draw when she was a girl and so it was no one's surprise when she went to the Philadelphia Museum College of Art to study. Upon graduation from the collge, she took a job at J.C. Penny's, working with the display department.

- Her parents were both Greek so when Aliki was 27 she took six months to travel Europe, hoping to spend time in Greece (immersing herself in her family's heritage/culture) and Italy. It was in Italy that she met her husband, Franz.

- In 1977 the Brandenberg family moved to England where they live still.

- Besides writing, she also teaches and enjoys art and ceramics.

- Her first book was The Story of William Tell and was published in 1960. I can't find any cover art images online but I did find this illustration that purports to be from the book.
(Having not seen this book - as it was not a part of our library's collection - I cannot verify whether this is so.)

- Her most recent book, Quiet in the Garden was published earlier this year (at the time of this post), February, 2009.

What I cannot discover is how many books are created to Aliki. There doesn't seem to be a comprehensive list that dates past 2007. However, 49 years in the publishing industry is not too shabby and she has quite a bit to be proud of, I would think. Our library had a healthy stack of books by Aliki but the one that I did not see and wish to see is the following:

Has anyone else out there read it and have any thoughts they'd like to share about it? Apparently it too is a Reading Rainbow book but I have never had the fortune of bumping into it.
I don't know about you but I rather like the fact that there are few details to know about this author and illustrator. It keeps the focus on the books and it also makes the author all the more interesting. There is a great deal to speculate about. For me, sometimes I think bygone days when people were more private about all the inner workings of their lives is to be missed. Beats out Paris Hilton, et al, who have to make sure we never have enough of them, wouldn't you say?!


  1. Yeah, I kind of like the author/artist mystique, too. It's uncommon nowadays, for sure. :-)

  2. Aliki Brandenberg is a rather private character, but she's written and illustrated a lot of fantastic books. You may want to look for some of her books on the nonfiction shelves: Corn Is Maize, A Medieval Feast, and My Visit to the Aquarium are favorites of mine.

  3. "A Weed Is a Flower: The Life of George Washington Carver by Aliki is a wonderful story about this amazing inventor, who overcame tremendous odds in order to succeed.